I convinced my support team to go up the shore with me. My hairy traveling buddy was invited. The cell phone said, “no service.” We had to set a rally time at the place where I’d emerge from the woods. We also set a time to sweep my possible bailout locations. And a time to call local law enforcement. Old school adventure planning. Paper maps and a watch. I even brought fire starter and a knife. And a compass. And even sprayed myself with bug dope. I must’ve been close to Canada for all that.
We were. At the northern end of the Superior Hiking Trail. Where it turns into the Border Route Trail at the Otter Lake Road. I was more worried about my wife and kids in a citified car on two-track, dirt forest roads than I was about myself. That is until I was about fifty yards from the trailhead in head-high wet grass from the previous night’s thunderheads. I couldn’t see my feet while I ran along, the brush was so thick. But the water and mud up to mid-calf helped cushion my steps, so it was fine.
We got through all that and some daisies (pronounced “daitheez”) and splurked and splorked our way through the mud for several more miles. After the Andy Lake Road, we found the highest point on the whole trail. No views, but significant enough for a sign. Somewhere along this stretch, we went through an area that looked like it had burned. It was filled with raspberries. We stopped to gorge. But, as it turns out, if you slow below about 4 miles per hour, mosquitoes will eat you while you eat the berries. Berry time ended quickly.
We found a huge glacial erratic near the Jackson Creek campsite. Glacial erratic = BFR. Big frigging rock that a glacier crapped out. We had a neat view of Jackson Lake and stumbled out onto Jackson Lake road. Hey, neat, I thought. I’ve done 8.7 miles. Only 5.1 to go. My “running” became more “speed hiking” as the heat and humidity of the day started to build. We turned the corner onto an awesome view. It was a Hellacious Overlook. No seriously. It was called Hellacious Overlook. We took a break and I finished an orange while I gave Leo the rest of the dog food I brought for him.
I fed him dog food earlier in the day. I did this when I took a dirt sample with my face earlier in the run. Stupid tree root. Have that removed. After that I decided I’d finish my food bars while walking and give the dog his lunch.
We followed the big ledges and looked down at the big lake. Supposedly (I read this after I ran) you can see Isle Royale from this spot. I didn’t see it. Can’t see it in my photos. I’m sure it’s there. I was mostly counting down the miles to arrive at 14. See, I promised The Chef that I’d be at the take-out at the four hour point. Not so much. So, I kept moving. Awesome creeks, which Leo sampled. He approves. Awesome views of some ponds. Beaver lodges. The day finished out with a solid mile of sloshing through more ditch/trail. Early in the run, I was upset to have to get my feet wet. Like a cat. Late in the run, I was glad for the cool refreshing sloshing of the water in my shoes. We stumbled up onto the Arrowhead Trail from the ditch.
The dog showed his characteristic joy at seeing The Chef. The proof is in the muddy paw prints on her driver’s side window. The kids gave me a Sprite and a leftover piece of Sven and Ole’s Pizza. Hunger is the best sauce, as they say. Four hours and fifteen minutes of swampy, buggy, North Shore love. My feet are still drying out.
Today’s Data: North Shore Shmo: Leg 14
In support of the Wounded Warrior Project. Click North Shore Shmo! for details.
T-Shirt of the Day:
This was my 9th Grandma’s Marathon. It was my 2nd fastest at the time. It was part of getting my groove back over the past several years. The following year, I again ran my 2nd fastest Grandma’s. I followed it up this year by not running it at all and going out and donating blood to little flying insects. My dog is happier, though.
This is also a shirt that is in the trend of race shirts that are “tech” shirts. Modern, light-weight wicking materials. I’m not sure I’m on board, but it seems like most major events hand out futuristic shirts like this. Not much cotton swag anymore. I will say this: A lot fewer bloody nipples from these shirts nowadays. So that’s good. SAVE THE NIPPLES! I should get a modern t-shirt made.